Kneepad Alert: Foodie Obama Is Hippest President Ever!

By any reasonable standard, the Obama administration has been a train wreck. But that doesn’t prevent our state media from fawning over him as though he were the reincarnation of George Washington. Here, it is CBS, telling us that Obama is a “foodie” who eats at the trendiest restaurants, is “far hipper” than other presidents; in particular, “so much cooler than President Bush.” Actually, if you watch to the end you will get a clue as to why President Bush generally chose not to dine out at Washington restaurants:

Speaking for myself, after six years I have had about all the coolness I can stand.

A Funeral In New York

Some 25,000 policemen turned out for the funeral of NYPD officer Rafael Ramos in Queens, some of them flown to New York, free of charge, by Jet Blue. This was the sea of blue outside the church where the funeral was held:


Ramos’s family, before the service. I had not realized it, but Ramos reportedly was studying to be a minister:


Mayor de Blasio has been trying to mend fences with the police department, but so far many of them aren’t buying it. Thousands of officers watched the funeral service on a big screen outside the church; when de Blasio spoke, they turned their backs:


Somewhat ironically, the funeral featured a lineup of Democratic Party speakers: de Blasio, Andrew Cuomo and Joe Biden. Biden’s speech was platitudinous–appropriately so. Biden is perhaps the only senior member of the administration who could have struck the right note, and sounded sincere doing it.

The national outpouring of support for the police following the murders of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu has cowed all but the most hard-core leftists into silence–temporarily at least–and it has exposed as juvenile and out of touch the anti-police racial politics of Barack Obama and Eric Holder. One assumes that it will be a while before Obama again reminds us that his “go-to guy on race” is Al Sharpton.

A meditation on Peggy Noonan

Peggy Noonan joined the crowd that turned on George W. Bush in what I thought was (in Noonan’s case) a grossly unfair manner in 2008. I wrote critically about one of Noonan’s weekly Wall Street Journal columns in which she identified with the public disapproval of Bush that April in “Season of the witch.”

Having turned on George W. Bush, Noonan moved on to support the election of Barack Obama later that year. Noonan all but endorsed Obama in her 2008 column “Obama and the runaway train.” The anti-Bush and pro-Obama columns fit neatly together. She wrote of Obama just before the election:

He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief. He climbed steep stairs, born off the continent with no father to guide, a dreamy, abandoning mother, mixed race, no connections. He rose with guts and gifts. He is steady, calm, and, in terms of the execution of his political ascent, still the primary and almost only area in which his executive abilities can be discerned, he shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make. We witnessed from him this year something unique in American politics: He took down a political machine without raising his voice.

In a sense, Obama delivered, but in another sense Noonan got everything wrong. Obama has changed the direction and tone of American foreign policy, alright, yet the change hasn’t yielded the results Noonan anticipated.

Noonan has now turned on Obama. She actually turned on him a while ago. In a recent column — “The unwisdom of Barack Obama,” behind the Journal’s subscription paywall but accessible via Google — Noonan condemned Obama on one of the grounds she had supported him in 2008: “His essential problem is that he has very poor judgment.”

Now you tell us.

In her defense, Noonan might plead that she acknowledged the paltry evidence in support of her 2008 claim that Obama has “good judgment.” If “judgment” were the issue, perhaps the excuse would mitigate the verdict that Noonan herself is guilty of incredibly poor judgment.

Yet the problems with Obama run much deeper than poor judgment. Noonan overlooks his sophisticated ignorance and leftist ideological rigidity. If you were following the news in 2008 and acquainting yourself with Obama’s background, you had to work hard to miss the evidence. Indeed, Noonan must have worked hard to avoid mentioning any of it and to work up her lyrical tribute to Obama in her 2008 column.

We have written a lot over the years about Obama’s ignorance and ideology. Bret Stephens focused on Obama’s ignorance in the Wall Street Journal column “What Obama knows” (behind the Journal’s subscription paywall but also accessible via Google). Noonan to the contrary notwithstanding, Stephens writes: “[E]ven at an elementary level, Mr. Obama often doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It isn’t so much his analysis of global events that’s wrong, though it is. The deeper problem is the foundation of knowledge on which that analysis is built.”

I would go further than Bret Stephens in that column (as he would as well). Something beyond ignorance explains Obama’s affinity for the Muslim Brotherhood, for example, and his hostility to Israel. The ideological component of Obama’s failures is probably the most important.

He advertised it in his promise of “fundamental transformation” of the United States. He clearly meant it. He has done his best to deliver on it. He has another two years to work on it. And on this score, he knows what he is doing and it would be a serious mistake to count him a failed president.

NOTE: This is adapted from my post “High Noonan.” I am taking the liberty of reposting it as a companion to “A meditation on David Brooks.”

There’s something about Louie

We went to see the film Unbroken on Christmas day at a suburban St. Paul multiplex. We arrived punctually for the first afternoon showing only to find that it had long since sold out, as had each subsequent showing until 10:30 p.m. They had a few tickets left for that one, but we bought two tickets for a mid-afternoon showing yesterday.

It also sold out. Indeed, although we arrived 40 minutes early, a long line of patrons inside the theater was waiting to be seated for our showing and the theater suspected some of us of sneaking in with tickets for other movies. As some relative latecomers struggled to find seats just before the movie was scheduled to begin, a theater employee asked all of us who were already seated to pull our tickets for inspection. Even before the movie began we had already had a rich theatergoing experience.

Like the book, the film tells the utterly amazing, almost unbelievable story of Louie Zamperini, who died earlier this year at the age of 97. The movie is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s wildly best-selling book, now in paperback and in an adaptation for young adults. I wrote about it in “The improbable lives of Louis Zamperini.”

Zamperini’s story is one of family, love, suffering, physical skill and athletic competition, country, war, suffering, survival, cruelty, survival, suffering, and, finally faith and triumph over suffering. The survival story is, as I say, almost beyond belief, as is the suffering he endured. I have never read a book so full of suffering.

Louie survived in part through indomitable will and finally through his faith, but Louie’s life was saved many times before the triumph over his suffering. Among those who saved his life were his brother, his pilot on one of his doomed WW II missions, President Truman (in ordering the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki inducing Japan’s surrender just before Louie would have died in the prison camp), his wife and, perhaps most strikingly, Billy Graham. Truman, Louie’s wife Cynthia, and Billy Graham are shortchanged by the film. If you’ve read the book you’ll want to see the movie, but please do read the book.

The movie tells Louie’s story essentially up to his return home at the end of the war. It leaves off the last part of the book in which Louie gets married and sinks into the depths of drunkenness and despair. It therefore leaves off the conversion to Christianity that saved his marriage from divorce. It was his conversion that also rescued him from drunkenness and from the suffering inflicted by the nightmares that drove him to drink. The film purports to cover Louie’s postwar story in a cursory written postscript that studiously avoids the details Hillenbrand diligently uncovered and vividly conveyed.

Nevertheless, Louie’s spirit shines through. Insofar as it covers Louie’s story, it does a good job of depicting it. Actor Jack O’Connell is a wonderful Louie.

This is not meant to be a review of the film. I’d have more to say if it were. This is meant to be a review of the audience for the film. I could and should have made this point about the success of the book, which reflects the phenomenon we saw at the theater this week.

There is something about Louie. He had something we are hungering for in the the Age of Obama.

The Week in Pictures: Encore Edition

Well, since a duly shamed Sony decided to release ‘The Interview” after all, we might as well do an encore beat down on North Korea, Obama (well okay, so every week is an encore of that), Al Sharpton, the mess in Washington, etc.  I’m still wondering if Seth Rogen and James Flacco Franco were the real hackers, and this was just a publicity stunt to rescue what looked to be a very weak, career-retarding movie.  Like New Coke, or Windows 8.

Che Obama copy

Coal Privilege copy

Top Un copy

North Korean Navy copy Sony Producers copy Red Dawn Redux copy J Wayne Objects copy Jabba Objects copy Empire Objects copy

Shapton the Hutt copy

Hillary Sharpton copy

Never forget.

Pied Dividers copy Unborn Black Lives copy

Pround to be White copy DeBlasio v Cops copy

Jeb Exoloring copy Shaved Bear copy Putin Belly copy

Santa Claus copy

Grinch copy Frankinnocence copy

Political Scientist Shirt copy

There Eggs Benedict on Hubcaps copy Karaoke Pain copy

Wash a Cat copy

Darth Cohen?

Darth Cohen?

Kirk Spock Christmas copy

This is just wrong.

Fake Snowwoman copy

And finally. . .

Hot 176 copy

One man’s “memorial” is another’s “pile of trash”

A motorist has run over a memorial erected to Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The memorial consisted of odds-and-ends placed in the middle of the street. Brown’s supporters have reassembled it.

His supporters claim that the motorist ran over the memorial intentionally. How they know the driver’s intentions is unclear. In any event, it was probably inevitable that items situated in the middle of a street would eventually be run over, especially at night when this “incident” occurred.

In response to inquiries about the matter from the Washington Post, Timothy Zoll, the Ferguson Police Department’s public relations officer, stated:

I don’t know that a crime has occurred, but a pile of trash in the middle of the street? The Washington Post is making a call over this?

That’s one way of looking at it. The way I look at it, Michael Brown doesn’t deserve an inviolate memorial in the middle of a street.

Will 2016 resemble 1968 for Democrats?

I’ve been dismissive of Jim Webb’s prospects for winning the Democratic presidential nomination. But Jacob Heilbrunn’s column on Webb, and Steve’s commentary on that column, made me take another look.

On second look, I still don’t see Webb getting very far.

Will female Democrats favor Webb — currently in his third marriage and the author of what some might consider a sexist novel — over Hillary Clinton? Not likely.

Will African-Americans favor Webb — so proud of his Scotch-Irish heritage — over the wife of “our first black president”? Not likely.

Will white southern Democrats favor Webb? Arguably. But he’s going to be running as a left-wing populist, and many white southern Democrats remain moderate.

Will wealthy Democrats back Webb? No. They can forgive populist rhetoric if they know it’s insincere, but they can’t be sure that Webb doesn’t mean what he says.

Suppose, however, that Hillary Clinton’s campaign implodes. In this scenario, we can expect Elizabeth Warren to enter. Warren would then become the favored candidate of females, radicals, and many other leftists. Even the wealthy would probably favor Warren over Webb, since she comes across as less than sincere.

If the scenario I’ve just described sounds familiar to old-timers, it’s because it resembles what happened in 1968. Going into the campaign season, President Johnson was the heavy favorite (as Clinton is now) but many on the left were urging Robert Kennedy to run (as they are now urging Warren to do).

Kennedy lacked the guts to challenge LBJ, but Eugene McCarthy was up for the fight. Though McCarthy didn’t defeat Johnson in the New Hampshire primary, he did well enough to cause Kennedy to enter the race. Soon thereafter, Johnson announced that he would neither seek nor accept his party’s nomination.

I would expect Warren to follow Kenney’s example and enter the race if Clinton were to withdraw or falter in 2016. Warren’s challenge will resemble Kennedy’s in terms of ideology, though she will be nothing like the campaign trail dynamo Kennedy was in 1968.

With Johnson out of the race and with two left-wing antiwar candidates fighting for the nomination, Vice President Hubert Humphrey announced his candidacy and attempted to rally the party establishment around him. Would Joe Biden do the same in 2016? I believe he would.

Whether Webb finds himself in a two-way race against Clinton, a two-way race against Warren, or a three-way race against Warren and Clinton or Biden, I consider him very unlikely to prevail.

I don’t deny that Clinton, Warren, and Biden all have serious deficiencies as campaigners. Webb, though he hasn’t shown himself to be a great campaigner, possesses the authenticity Clinton and Warren lack, and is not a bumbling windbag like Talkin’ Joe Biden.

But the logic of the race in a party where identity counts for so much is badly stacked against Webb.